The first thing we see at the start of The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the logo of the distribution company, Summit Entertainment, which is subsidiary of Lions Gate Entertainment. Whilst this does not really give the viewer information on the film, people familiar with the kind of work the Summit/Lions Gate do might start to draw ideas from their knowledge of past films.
After this, we see the logo for the production studio, Mr. Mudd, set to the sound of a typewriter, and stylised in a typewriter font. This first sequence helps to set up the typewriter substory in the film, and identifies it as a key feature in the film. Viewers familiar with the work of the studio might start to think about what they will expect in the film. This is followed by the names of the major cast members; Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. Once again, if the audience has seen some of the films that these actors have appeared in then they might start to consider what kind of characters are going to be in the film, and what kind of story it might be.
Could It Be Another Change by The Samples starts playing, and the title of the film is shown on screen. The title itself is quite enigmatic, as “the perks of being a wallflower” does not have any references to a mainstream idea or something that a lot of people know, such as Titanic or Romeo and Juliet. Nevertheless, it does lead viewers wondering what the film is going to be about, and the enigmatic title could lead the audience to think the film itself might be quite enigmatic and obscure.
Once the title has faded out, an image of lights moving along the screen fades in. We can quickly ascertain that these are images of a tunnel in a city, which helps to establish the location and set up the “tunnel story” for the rest of the film, which is one of the key parts of two of the character’s backgrounds and becomes an important part of the protagonists’ story by the end of the film. These images continue and the names of the other minor cast members and crew members are shown on screen in the same typewriter font.
After several more tunnel/bridge/road shots, the image pans up to the sky to complete blackness, and then fades back in onto the reflection of the main character, Charlie, in his bedroom window. He is writing a letter, and a voiceover is used to let us know what he is writing. We are introduced to the character here, and gain information such as the fact that he spent time in a hospital, he has no or very few friends, and that he is quite introverted.
After this shot, we cut to a medium close shot of Charlie, which allows us to see his face more clearly, and judge his state of emotion when writing this letter. This shot also feels quite intimate, so we are made to like this character, rather than feel disconnected and cold towards the shot.
Charlie tells the recipient of the letter that the next day is his first day of high school, and expresses his worries about that. We see thoughts of him visualising his last day of high school. Slow motion is used to make light of the fact that this is only a thought, not an actual event.
This shot ends the first three minutes of the film, and thus the opening, as the story starts to get more in depth and there is more development with the characters, as well as the introduction of others.